News Briefs

    Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer passes seven million members

    Virgin Australia reported (21-Feb-2017) its Velocity Frequent Flyer loyalty programme has passed its seven millionth member.

    Qantas carries out full in-flight test of new WiFi streaming service

    Qantas reported it conducted a full flight trial of its new inflight WiFi connectivity service, with typical download speeds of between 7Mbps and 12Mbps being achieved for each connected mobile device ( Business Traveller, 21-Feb-2017). The trial was conducted on a Boeing 737-800 on a ‘special charter’ Sydney-Brisbane flight, with up to 100% passengers on the aircraft connected at any one time, with an average of 1.6 devices per passenger. Qantas plans to offer the inflight WiFi streaming service on domestic flights from mid-2017 onwards, with trans-Pacific and long-haul flight connectivity to be added later. The trial also allowed pilots to access real time weather and route information.


    Embraer: Virgin Australia E190s being easily placed with other operators

    Embraer Commercial Aviation VP for Asia Pacific Mark Dunnachie said the E190 aircraft being retired from Virgin Australia‘s fleet are easily being placed with new operators, allowing Embraer “to seed new customers” and affirming the “fluidity” of the E-Jets as an aviation asset (Australian Aviation, 22-Feb-2017). Mr Dunnachie commented that Virgin’s decision to withdraw its 18 E190s from its fleet was disappointing, but affirmed that the parties exited with a good relationship and Embraer will seek to interest Virgin in the updated E-Jets E-2 family. As previously reported by CAPA, Virgin Australia plans to phase the last of its E190s from its fleet by the end of 2017 and has signed an LoI to sell its six remaining owned E190s.


    Embraer sees opportunities to replace/upgrade around 80 regional jets in Australia

    Embraer Commercial Aviation VP for Asia Pacific Mark Dunnachie said there are approximately 80 aircraft in the manufacturer’s regional jet categories that “would eventually qualify for replacement or upgrade to something else”, excluding Boeing717s (Australian Aviation, 22-Feb-2017). According to the CAPA Fleet Database, there are 92 regional jets in service in Australia, as well as 20 717s. The Australian commercial airline fleet has 23 Embraer regional jets in service.


    New Zealand offers ‘Flight-Yield’ from Airways New Zealand to CAAP

    New Zealand Ambassador to Manila David Strachan reported the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has been presented with an offer to use the ‘Flight-Yield’ automated aviation billing system developed and adopted by Airways New Zealand (, 22-Feb-2017). According to Mr Strachan, an initial offer, made in 2014, was not taken up, but a second offer was made in Oct-2016 and a finance committee will evaluate the proposal. Mr Strachan said adoption of the system would help to increase CAAP’s revenues generated from fees collected from airlines.


    Tigerair Australia reportedly plans to resume Melbourne-Townsville service

    Tigerair Australia reportedly plans to launch three times weekly Melbourne-Townsville service from 22-Jun-2017 (Townsville Bulletin, 22-Feb-2017). Townsville Enterprise CEO Patricia O’Callaghan reported the body plans to work with the airline and the Queensland Government on a marketing campaign, and that “attracting an extra domestic route into the region was just as important as international legs” for Townsville Airport.


    Tourism Australia and Bank of China sign MoU

    Tourism Australia and Bank of China signed (21-Feb-2017) a MoU to establish a comprehensive cooperative relationship covering the areas of ChinaAustralia tourism and related personal consumption, study abroad, investment and wealth management. Also under the agreement, Bank of China will further explore and cooperate with Tourism Australia in terms of personal cross-border financial products services and Australian tourism projects.


    Qantas to move to test WiFi streaming service ‘in the next few weeks’

    Qantas, via its official blog, reported (21-Feb-2017) it expects to start customer testing of its new in-flight WiFi streaming in-flight connectivity system “in the next few weeks”, following its recent successful charter flight trial. The carrier will be using these flights to ascertain a “more typical” user experience profile and to keep refining the system for several months as part of a broader trial. The carrier plans to roll out WiFi out across 80 domestic aircraft from mid-2017 onwards.

    Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester: Statement on Essendon Airport incident

    Australia Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester released (21-Feb-201) a statement regarding the plane crash near Melbourne Essendon Airport which occurred on 21-Feb-2017. Mr Chester said it is too early to speculate on the cause of the incident and the Australia Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB) is on scene investigating the incident. The Beechcraft B200 Super King Air crashed nearby Essendon Airport with five passengers on board.


    ATSB releases statement regarding Essendon Airport incident

    Australian Transportation Safety Board (ATSB) announced (21-Feb-2017) it is investigating the collision with terrain involving Beechcraft B200 King Air registered VH-ZCR at Melbourne Essendon Airport on 21-Feb-2017. ATSB has deployed a team of four investigators with specialties in aircraft mechanical engineering, operations and engineering to the accident site.


    Essendon Airport CEO releases statement regarding 21-Feb-2017 incident

    Melbourne Essendon Airport’s CEO Chris Cowan released  (21-Feb-2017) a statement regarding the collision with terrain incident on 21-Feb-2017. Mr Cowan said, “Essendon Airport is providing its full co-operation with emergency services and investigators into the cause of the incident and we thank the emergency services for all their efforts”.


    Sharp Airlines operations unaffected by crash near Essendon Airport

    Sharp Airlines reported (21-Feb-2017) it continues to operate as scheduled at Melbourne Essendon Airport. The carrier operates scheduled and charter flights from Essendon to locations in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.


    Tigerair Australia to operate Melbourne-Townsville service from Jun-2017

    Tigerair Australia announced (22-Feb-2017) plans to launch four times weekly Melbourne-Townsville service, commencing 22-Jun-2017 – see Route Change Table for more information. The carrier will be the sole operator on the route, offering close to 40,000 seats p/a on the route. 10 new positions are to be created at Townsville Airport to facilitate the route. Support for the new route was provided from the Queensland Government’s Attracting Aviation Investment Fund through Tourism and Events Queensland in partnership with the Townsville City Council and Queensland Airports Limited. Over 50% of all Tigerair’s domestic services already operate to/from Queensland.


    Rockwell Collins to introduce Coalescence mixed reality training system at Avalon 2017

    Rockwell Collins announced (21-Feb-2017) it will introduce ‘Coalescence’, a mixed reality training system for air, land and maritime domains at the upcoming Avalon 2017 air show.


    Auckland Airport announces Sichuan Airlines service

    Auckland Airport announced (22-Feb-2017) Sichuan Airlines will launch three times weekly Chengdu-Auckland service from Jun-2017 utilising A330-200 equipment. Auckland Airport acting aeronautical commercial GM Scott Tasker said the carrier is expected to add 81,000 seats a year between China and New Zealand, delivering an estimated NZD102 million (USD73 million) annually to New Zealand’s economy.


    Velocity Frequent Flyer enters partnership with EnergyAustralia

    Virgin Australia loyalty programme Velocity Frequent Flyer announced a partnership with EnergyAustralia. From 23-Feb-2017, the partnership will reward new and existing EnergyAustralia customers who link their Velocity account.


    These are among the over 30 news items in relation to the Australia Pacific region published by CAPA Centre for Aviation in their Asia Pacific Airline Daily and over 400 news items covering global aviation.